The Nato forces in Afghanistan led by the US cannot hope to succeed in any part of their mission when they persistently display profound ignorance of the country in which they are operating. The long-running conflict needs some kind of political solution, which has to be found by the Afghan government talking to the Taliban. It cannot be found by Americans killing Afghans.

It is a disaster that the coalition forces continuously display an ingrained ignorance of Muslim sensibilities, as illustrated by US personnel burning copies of the Quran in a pile of garbage.

The holy book is universally respected by all Muslims, and there are clear cut methods to dispose off old copies of the book respectfully.

The Americans showed no such awareness, and their ignorant actions have successfully infuriated both radical (who are delighted to exploit the crisis) and liberal (who are horrified) opinion.

The apologies pouring out of the US military, including from the commanding general in Afghanistan and the US secretary of defence, make very little difference. The same apologies were heard after every slaughter of civilians by drone attacks, and they simply indicate that the Nato force has lost any legitimacy it might have had at the start, and needs to leave Afghanistan.